UPDATED -- FIRE razed at least 100 houses, many of them made of wood, in Sitio Avocado, Barangay Lahug, Cebu City last night.
A candle reportedly caused the blaze, which started in the two-storey house of Rosemarie Villarin.
Investigators pegged the damage to property at P1 million.
Acting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, who went to the fire scene across the Lahug barangay hall and beside the University of the Philippines campus, said he will urge the City Council to declare the site under a state of calamity during the special session tomorrow.
“Those bona fide victims will be given P10,000 as financial assistance, cooking materials and construction materials,” he said.
The barangay council will also convene to make a similar declaration, so financial aid can be given to the victims who are temporarily living in the Lahug Elementary School and the barangay gym.
Suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama also inspected the fire scene.
Fire Chief Inspector Ronaldo Orbeta said they still have to verify the number of families affected by the fire, which the fire department learned about at 6:22 p.m.
The fire alarm was raised to Task Force Alpha, which meant that all available firefighting teams were supposed to respond.
Because the sitio has no interior roads, Orbeta said they had to connect hoses.
Firefighters contained the flames and kept these from spreading to other houses past 7 p.m.
Labella said he instructed the City’s Department of Social Welfare and Services to provide food for the victims. They started doing so last night.
As of 9:30 p.m., City Hall listed 55 houses razed and one house damaged, displacing 126 families or 537 individuals. (The list was still being updated.)
Rosemarie, 46, said she lit a candle and placed it on top of a plastic drawer near a pile of clothes past 6 p.m. She had let her grandson Jake, 4, sleep on a mat on the second floor. She later went down to the kitchen to make a drink.
When Rosemarie returned to where Jake was, she saw the flames eating the ceiling.
Jake was awakened by the heat and jumped to the lower floor.
“Kaluoy sa Diyos, luwas tawon siya ug wala’y naunsa namo bisag wala mi nadala (By God’s mercy, Jake is safe and no one among us was hurt, although we managed to save nothing),” she said.
Gift lost, too
Her son Clyde, 14, said they lost their clothes and valuables, including P3,000 cash they received as Christmas gifts from relatives and friends.
“Para sa New Year ta tong kwartaha kay wala gyud mi ka-celebrate pag Pasko kay wa mi mga trabaho (We were going to use that money for New Year’s Eve. We didn’t celebrate Christmas because none of us have jobs),” he said.
He said their house had three rooms. His family has been living in the place for more than 20 years.
“Wa mi kahibawo asa padung ron (We don’t know where to go),” said Clyde, who was barefoot. “Apil ni sa trials gikan ni Lord (This is one of the Lord’s trials for us).”
He knew at least 14 families displaced by the fire, including that of a pastor who led their Bible study classes.
Neighbor Diday Ramos said the affected houses had stood closely to one other. Ramos said that the lot belonged to the state university.
“Karon pa ni nasunog (This is our first fire here),” she said. “Way ayo kay liwas Pasko, na ingon ani mi (It’s terrible that this happened to us this Christmas).” (Sunnex)